Meat Company Fined, Former USDA Inspector Sentenced in School Meat Scheme
BOSTON (AP) _ A meat processor has been fined and a former government inspector sentenced to prison in a scheme to put filler in ground beef earmarked for school lunch programs in 10 states.
Idle Wild Farm of Pomfret, Conn., was fined $500,000 Monday by U.S. District Judge A. David Mazzone. The company had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and bribery, and agreed to pay the government $2.6 million in a civil settlement.
Mazzone also sentenced James Niddrie, 52, of Worcester, one of two former U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors indicted in the scheme, to two years in prison on fraud and bribery charges. He pleaded guilty Sept. 30.
Prosecutors said Idle Wild Farm made more than $1 million in illicit profits over five years by diverting about 15 percent of the beef it handled for school districts and selling it to private customers.
Authorities said the beef diverted by the company’s L.B. Darling division in the early to mid-1980s was replaced with vegetable fillers.
The company and former vice president Kenneth Y. Jacobson, 50, of Worcester bribed meat inspectors with $56,000 in cash, food, drinks, gasoline and car repairs, prosecutors said.
Jacobson, who had been in charge of the L.B. Darling operation, pleaded guilty. His sentencing was delayed until Jan. 5 because of illness, a court clerk said.
A second former USDA meat inspector is awaiting trial.
Idle Wild had contracts with school districts in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, the government said.
L.B. Darling was sold for $4.1 million to a group of New York investors who contacted federal authorities in October 1985 after discovering discrepancies in the books and a large store of fillers, prosecutors said.
L. B. Darling was closed late this summer.